Xandru Grech is one of the finest middle-distance runners Malta has ever produced as underlined by the national records he set in 1995 over the 800m and 1,500m distances. He now coaches athletics to young athletes which keeps his passion for running alive.
You’re known for being a TV personality as well as for your participation in various sports. What is the achievement you’re the most proud of in this field? I guess the one I am most proud of must be in 1995, when I won two individual medals in the small nations games in the 800m and 1500m. It’s the only time a Maltese athlete won two individual medals in middle distance in the history of these games. I also broke my national records in both races. From an emotional perspective however, I would say that the bronze I won in 1999 changed my life. I was anorexic and stopped believing in myself… that bronze instils peace of mind till this very day.
When and where did you start running? How old were you? I started competing in races at the age of 9. But I was always a runner. My mother used to tell me that I never walked. According to her, I got up, wobbled, balanced myself and… ran.
Describe your ideal race. In my eyes, an ideal race is one where the world freezes and continues to move only in slow motion. Here, sounds, smells and all the other senses are heightened. In order to be in the perfect zone of pushing your limits 100%, your mind, body and soul must be in sync, all aligned. And before you know it, the race is over and you have no idea what you even placed. But there is no one in front of you. As soon as you cross that finish line, it all comes rushing back to you; the perfect technique, the change of pace, the memory of your mind telling your body to push more, constantly defying and over-powering the urge to stop.
As an ex-athlete, do you miss the thrill of racing? I miss it daily. When you reach those extremities of the pure adrenaline rush, of pushing your body beyond its limits, of over achieving and winning, it’s hard to stop and proceed to live a normal life. I miss those natural highs. It’s difficult to describe – it’s like wearing a superhero outfit and suddenly having the ability to run super fast, faster than most. Then one fine day, you place the suit in a wardrobe and are forced to become a mere mortal, never to experience that speed and thrill again.
You run two gyms called Move Pro at Niume in Imriehel and another called Move Smart in Kalkara. How do you differentiate between the two? Move Pro is a personalised centre, with innovative 30-minute long, effective sessions. Move Smart, located at Smart City has three areas, on the other hand: a 35-minute long fat burning circuit, a gym and a functional area. Move Pro can get the best results with just 2 x 30-minute sessions per week. Move Smart also has lots of advantages: great prices, the Milon strength endurance circuit, a functional zone, free parking and anti-bacterial spray. It’s also located in a very beautiful area.
Malta hosted several world leading triathletes during the Super League Triathlon in October. How were you involved? I was contacted by Super League to see if I would be ready to meet up with them, determine whether Malta would be a good host location and to see if I could help in that regard. This was over a year ago, and last weekend we hosted the mega international event, with the largest amount of Olympian’s in one race. 26 foreign channels and millions all over the world watched Malta, in all its beauty. You can find the race on Super League Triathlon Malta.
What is your main challenge right now? I work with the Iniala group and we have many interesting projects at the moment, including luxury apartments and offices, art galleries, gastronomy fairs, Inspirasia foundation and our new luxury boutique hotel and restaurant. I am also hoping to bring super league over to Malta once again, as a coach for my athletes to perform in the small nations games and other races.